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Delhi HC asks NBCC to return Rs 76L with interest to homebuyer, awards Rs 5L compensation

May 09,2024

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has asked NBCC to refund over 76 lakh along with interest to a homebuyer after it failed to deliver possession of his flat, bought it 2012, and also awarded compensation of Rs 5 lakh for causing “extreme mental agony”. Justice Subramonium Prasad, while allowing the homebuyer’s petition against NBCC, observed that purchasing a house is one of the most significant investments an individual or a family makes in their lifetime, and it often involves years of savings, meticulous planning and emotional investment, and therefore compensating wronged homebuyers is not just a matter of rectifying past injustices but also about deterring future misconduct.

The petitioner, a retired government employee, said he purchased the flat in ‘NBCC Green View Apartments’, a project launched in 2012 for Gurugram, but in spite of paying the entire sale price of over Rs 76 lakh in 2017, the unit was never handed over to him.

In the order passed on May 8, the court observed that the petitioner has been deprived of his money for the last 10 years and “structurally defective houses” have been constructed, leaving him in a complete lurch, and NBCC should be “dealt with severely” for reluctance to pay interest on the amount and ensuring the petitioner’s rehabilitation.

Taking judicial notice of geometric progression of price of land in the national capital region, the court said the “pittance” offered by NBCC to only return the principal amount was not an offer in the eyes of law and a rent allowance of Rs.12.50/- per sq. ft. for six months was not an adequate compensation.

“This court is, therefore, inclined to allow the instant writ petition directing the respondent/NBCC to return the entire amount of money paid by the Petitioners within a period of six weeks from today along with interest @ 12% from 30.01.2021 till today. In view of the fact that the petitioner has been forced to shift accommodation and fend for himself in the last seven years and has been put to extreme mental agony, this court is inclined to direct the NBCC to pay a sum of Rs. 5 lakh to the petitioner,” the court ordered.

“This is a classic case of extreme hardships suffered by a home buyer who has been made to run from pillar to post after having spent his entire life savings… Respondent has been exceedingly unfair in treating the home buyers in this manner,” the court observed.

NBCC accused the petitioner of “forum shopping”, stating he has already approached the fora under the RERA Act and the Consumer Protection Act, and therefore the petition should not be entertained by the high court.

The court said in the present case, the act of approaching various fora stemmed from “desperation” rather than any strategy.

The behaviour, it added, arises out of a sense of frustration, helplessness and lack of legal knowledge.

“In the present case, the petitioner entered into the agreement way back in the year 2012. In five years, the petitioner has pumped in over Rs 76 lakh. A ‘No Dues Certificate’ has been given to the petitioner. Structural defects have been found out in the construction after certain persons started occupying the flats. Petitioners and several other persons have been left in lurch and have been forced to knock the doors of various forums,” the court said.

“Such a person faces financial crunch to ensure proper education to his children and such a situation he has no other option but to knock on the doors of various forums hoping to get relief and in such a situation the contention of the State that the person is guilty of forum shopping cannot be accepted at all,” it added.

The court further said that when builders fail to deliver what was promised, they shatter the trust and financial security of homebuyers and put them in a situation where they may face immense stress, anxiety, uncertainty and ultimately be forced to navigate legal channels for seeking recourse.

“The emotional toll of living in limbo, uncertain about the future of their investment and the stability of their living arrangements cannot be understated. Compensating wronged homebuyers is not just a matter of rectifying past injustices but also about deterring future misconduct,” the court observed.

Source: Economic TImes

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